Committee against Torture
29 April - 17 May 2002
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE
10 OF THE CONVENTION
1. The Committee considered the fourth periodic report of Sweden
(CAT/C/55/Add.3) at its 504th and 507th meetings, held on 30 April
and 1 May 2002 (CAT/C/SR.504 and 507), and adopted the following
conclusions and recommendations.
2. The Committee welcomes with satisfaction the fourth periodic
report of Sweden, which was submitted to the Committee before the
target date, and was drawn up in keeping with the Committee's guidelines
for drafting of reports.
3. The Committee welcomes the additional information supplied by
the delegation of Sweden, both orally and in writing, demonstrating
the State party's willingness to continue a frank and open dialogue
with the Committee. The Committee also underlines the efforts made
by the delegation to reply to its questions in an exhaustive manner.
4. The Committee emphasizes with satisfaction the strong and steadfast
commitment to human rights manifested by Sweden and the positive
responses to the Committee's earlier recommendations. It welcomes
in particular the following points:
(a) The adoption of a national action plan for human rights for
the years 2002-2004, as part of the follow-up to the 1993 World
Conference on Human Rights, featuring as a priority topic the issue
of international protection against persecution and torture. The
Committee welcomes with satisfaction the plan of the Swedish authorities
to translate the conclusions and recommendations of the six United
Nations treaty monitoring bodies and to distribute them in municipalities.
(b) The setting up, in December 2000, of a special commission to
study the manner in which the criminal investigation into the 1995
death in detention of Osmo Vallo was carried out. The Committee
notes in particular that the "Osmo Vallo Commission" published its
conclusions and recommendations in April 2002, and that they have
been submitted to the Ministry of Justice.
(c) The establishment, in December 2000, of an official parliamentary
committee to determine whether the existing framework for handling
allegations of criminal actions by the police is satisfactory.
(d) The establishment of an official committee entrusted with the
task of investigating the actions of the police during the events
in Göteborg, and determining what steps the police should take on
the occasion of public demonstrations to protect public order as
well as the fundamental right to demonstrate.
(e) The setting up of a special commission to review legislation
and case law relating to the application of decisions concerning
expulsion from Swedish territory, especially in relation to allegations
that individuals have been expelled to countries with which they
have no significant ties.
(f) The many studies and projects under way aimed at enhancing the
domestic legal system for the protection of human rights, in particular
the jurisdiction of Swedish courts regarding international offences
committed abroad, and the improvement of the procedure relating
to requests for asylum.
(g) The assurance given by the Swedish authorities that they have
acted in accordance with the Committee's observations concerning
individual complaints and the State party's obligation not to send
certain persons back to countries where there is a risk that they
might be tortured. The Committee also welcomes the fact that the
Alien Act contains a provision which will enable the Swedish immigration
authorities to base their decisions directly on observations made
by international bodies.
C. Subjects of concern
5. While the specific arrangements for giving effect to the Convention
in the domestic legal system are left to the discretion of each
State party, the means used must be appropriate, that is, that they
should produce results which indicate that the State party has fully
discharged its obligations. Sweden has opted for the dualistic system
as regards incorporation of international treaties into domestic
law, and should therefore adopt appropriate legislation for the
incorporation of the Convention against Torture. The Committee notes
that Swedish domestic law does not contain a definition of torture
in keeping with article 1 of the Convention. Above all, neither
torture nor cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment are identified
as specific crimes and offences in domestic criminal law.
6. The Committee also records its concern at the following:
(a) The allegation that some foreigners have been expelled or sent
back to a country with which they have no significant ties, on the
basis, inter alia, of linguistic criteria which are sometimes unsystematic,
unreliable, and could lead to a breach of article 3 of the Convention.
(b) The Special Control of Foreigners Act, known as the anti-terrorism
law, allows foreigners suspected of terrorism to be expelled under
a procedure which might not be in keeping with the Convention, because
there is no provision for appeal.
(c) Several cases of the excessive use of force by police personnel
and prison guards, leading to the death of the persons concerned,
have occurred in recent years in Sweden. In addition, the year 2001
was marked by the Göteborg riots, following which many complaints
of ill treatment were made.
(d) Allegations of imprecise, often subjective and inadequate guidelines
and lack of training given to police personnel and prison guards
regarding the use of force.
(e) Although the periodic report claims that statements obtained
under duress cannot be used as evidence in proceedings, there seems
to be no legislative rule which clearly spells out such a prohibition.
7. The Committee recommends that the State party should:
(a) Incorporate in its domestic law the definition of torture set
out in article 1 of the Convention, and should characterize acts
of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment as specific
crimes, punishable by appropriate sanctions.
(b) Ensure that if foreigners are sent back, they are sent back
to a country of their choice, or a country with which they have
real ties and where there is no substantial grounds for believing
that they would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
(c) Bring the Special Control of Foreigners Act into line with the
(d) Strengthen the machinery for following up the guarantees of
proper treatment offered by States to which foreigners are expelled.
(e) Undertake more comprehensive and detailed investigations into
the human rights situation in the countries of origin of asylum-seekers.
(f) Ensure that all allegations of violations committed by police
personnel and prison guards, and in particular, any death in detention,
are investigated promptly and impartially. Due attention should
be paid to the conclusions and recommendations of the "Osmo Vallo
(g) Strengthen the human rights education programmes intended for
police personnel, prison guards and other law enforcement officers,
as well as training programmes relating to the application of the
Handbook of Police Procedures and Actions of Self-defence.
(h) Ensure that the prohibition on the use of statements obtained
by torture as evidence in proceedings is clearly formulated in domestic
8. The Committee recommends that the State party should include
in its fifth periodic report a summary of the conclusions and recommendations
drawn up by the above-mentioned national commissions and committees,
and indicate how they have been followed up.
9. The Committee also recommends that the State party disseminate
widely the Committees conclusions and recommendations, in
all appropriate languages, in the country.